Retained pacemaker leads

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1987 Nov;94(5):770-2.


Increasingly, functionless pacemaker leads are being abandoned in place because they cannot be safely removed. One hundred eighty-nine intact or partially removed pacemaker leads were abandoned in situ in 152 patients between Jan. 1, 1965, and Dec. 31, 1985. The leads, sometimes several leads in a single patient, were deemed uninfected at the time of abandonment in 137 patients and contaminated with Staphylococcus epidermidis in 15 patients. All of the contaminated leads have remained clinically uninfected during follow-up. One clean lead became infected early after implantation and the patient died after an open cardiac operation to remove that lead and an adjacent abandoned lead that was adherent to the subclavian vein. No other patient has had a late complication during follow-up to 256 months (mean 47.6). Properly managed abandonment of an uninfected lead can carry a very low complication rate.

MeSH terms

  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Pacemaker, Artificial*
  • Reoperation
  • Risk Factors
  • Staphylococcal Infections / etiology*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis
  • Time Factors